February is American Heart Month

In 1964, President Johnson proclaimed February as American Heart Month. Congress responded by requesting that the president issue an annual proclamation each February to continue this recognition – thus February will forever be recognized as Heart Month.

Advancements in medicine have resulted in improved diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Still, 50 years later, heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of American men and women, responsible for one out of every four deaths in the United States.

Those who are at the greatest risk for heart disease are those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and those who smoke. Other risk factors include diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive use of alcohol. Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can improve heart health and reduce the chance of a heart attack.

Here are few reminders for living a heart-healthy life:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats to no more than 10 percent of your daily calories.
  • Chocolate is good! Flavonoids are in chocolate, red wine and coffee, which can actually lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Don’t go overboard, though – a one-ounce portion of dark chocolate is best.
  • Eating at home, instead of dining out, lets you control how your food is prepared.
  • Limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.
  • Have a goal of 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week; that can be 30 minutes a day or three 10-minute bouts each day – they are equally effective.
  • Eat breakfast everyday!
  • Limit red meat.
  • Don’t smoke – and if you do, quit. Quitting smoking can reduce your heart disease death risk to those of someone who has never smoked in as little as eight years – if you smoke fewer than 3.2 packs per day.
  • Try not to stress. Studies have shown associations between high levels of stress and heart risks. 

Be good to your heart!

Donna D'Amico

Marketing Director for Bradley Bay Health Center in Bay Village.

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Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 9:26 AM, 02.18.2014